Being fond of brands and noticing the choices that marketeers and designers make keeps my mind busy most of the time. This little ‘nod’ to coffee kings Starbucks is for an activity they’ve been doing for a while and the impact this small change made can’t go unmentioned on my blog.

People have mixed emotions about super huge organisations, the view that they don’t care/are only in it for the money and on the other side I love the lengths that companies go to in order to get in front of you, help the world etc. I saw a video on YouTube yesterday about the CEO of Nestle saying that as his role is to continually think of new ideas and create profits they are looking into privatising water. His argument is so ridiculous that I can see why people dislike these multinationals.

But sometimes it’s OK to like big companies especially when they give you that fuzzy feeling. Starbucks have always caught my eye, even though I’ve been drinking less coffee over the last year (It has nothing to do with them just be trying to be good.) Having recently been into the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Starbucks and seeing how similar some of the things are but then how different they are (to UK stores) really impressed me.

This regional variation is not like McDonald’s, who have no vegetarian choices in Egypt for some reason or how the beef is replaced for lamb in India, where you feel like you’re in some other chain all together. This regional variation is the feel that you get when you walk into a Starbucks, the service, the layout, the process is so familiar and comfortable but then the tea is green and the coffee is different. The normally muffin is a blueberry and cheese muffin and a whole load of other unusual food items.

To be more poignant, the impressive part in all this is re-creating that feeling to that level of detail but subtly making it it’s own. This is a very difficult thing to do correctly.

But this is not the reason for this blog. The reason for this blog is the small change that some genius had within Starbucks to ask for your name when you place your order. For all these years, baristas have been shouting out latte’s and frappe’s in the hope you guess the right one and on quite a few occasions I myself have picked up the wrong one.

The person taking your order picks up the cup, as they were going to, they write on there what you want and with pen in hand, the 3 seconds it takes for them to ask your name and put it on the cup, changes the whole experience. ‘They want to know my name?’ and in a few minutes someone will call my name to give me my drink. This personal touch may seem minor but they haven’t been doing it since it’s started in 1971 (established in Seattle), where like Costa and Nero you just get your drink, here they call you by your name and it’s the smallest but most powerful tool. People (sad like me) take pictures of it and use it as their cover picture on Facebook, others use it as a cheeky ice breaker to chat to someone they’ve seen in the same place every day but didn’t know their name…

The video to support the campaign explains it in a great way –

Making the impersonal personal. It’s campaigns and ideas that make marketeers kick themselves, going – I wish I’d have thought of something so simple as that (like every song writer wished that they could write a song a simple and genius as The Script’s Man Who Can’t Be Moved.) Granted as with most campaigns there are some things that don’t go to plan, like addressing the new multicultural world we live in and the names that come with that. So at first my name came out as ‘Christoph’ rather than Pritesh, then to help I thought I’d shorten it to Pritz and well you can image what I received on day…. yup it actually happened. But either way you don’t mind because it’s meant for YOU and that fuzzy feeling washes everything else away.

I’d love to work for a brand like Starbucks and seeing things like this inspire me more!

Happy Reading!